62 | SEO after the COVID19 pandemic

The changes in search since lockdown and the Covid19 pandemic is undeniable. This episode covers the key shifts in user behaviour and the impact it has on organisations, especially charities. 

So, how will SEO adapt to these challenges?

James-Charles (JC) Connington, Senior SEO strategist at Cancer Research UK.

He started by learning Dreamweaver and HTML. Got to know how search engines crawl and engage with it. Started working with startups and building websites. Worked at an agency and client side, such as Kirk & Kirk. Small to medium charities as part of the agency portfolio and found himself drawn towards their specific needs. Ecommerce is about products whereas charity websites have a fundraising and marketing side, so content & 3 million URLs across the board, but also UGC (user generated content) pages, online shops and informational pages. 

How did COVID19 impact the charity sector?

It has been estimated that 4 and a half billion pounds was lost of charitable income as a consequence to the pandemic. So many had/have to fall back on reserves but only 25% of charity organisations have reserves enough to last through summer. 

As a result there has been a massive increase in demand and community based services. The whole NPF (not for profit) sector is dependent on donors and philanthropy. So, when in lockdown and with people losing jobs and when there is uncertainty; people are less likely to spend and give to charities. People also tend to give it to other causes, such as giving millions to Tom Moore.

Be Flexible! A Response to the Change of User Lifestyle

Lost 25% of people raising on their behalf, Cancer Research UK events had to be cancelled and campaigns stopped due to Covid. 

Cancer Research UK launched Race for Life; AT HOME or stop drinking for 7 days campaign (Dryathlon).

Users are looking for entertainment, home improvement, crafts, DIY and home office items for working from home. The latter is the number one priority in the current climate. Have a think about how the user is thinking and how you and your company can fit into that shift of intent.  

The results being returned have changed

Ric Rodriguez is always talking about search intent. 

Lily Ray mentioned how home baking and flour searches have changed. Before you used to get products in the SERPS (search engine result pages) but now you have recipes and Google is therefore learning that we’re looking for ways to make these things ourselves rather than buy in stores.  

The change is twofold:

  1. Users are searching differently.
  2. Search Engines are learning that we want a complete different set of results.

May 2020 Algorithm Update

Most likely a focus again on EAT. Is the trust factor around the author and you need that to rank well? Seen content from health related websites that gained ground but no authorship. 

Cancer Research support, information and treatment, they want to ensure they’re ranking at the top of the search results but want to make sure that Google is aware of the credibility of Cancer Research UK. BUT JC asks, what if you’re unable to add authorship to your sites but actually the information is good.

SEO Prioritisation during COVID

With most events cancelled and people staying at home, here’s what you should be asking for reprioritization in the new way of searching:

  • What were your previous priorities?
  • What industry are you in?
  • How can you adapt to the new way of living?
  • What content can you create to fit what people are now searching for? 
  • What have you got that fits the new intent?

Search Engine Results Pages are looking different. Google asks you to do an extra click in the SERPs, sort of like a rich snippet which is JC’s current bug bear. 

In this example, someone might have conducted a branded search on Race for life 5k runs – usually they see the events carousel with 3 Race for life 5k runs nearest them coming up in the box. Now they get this box (and they are prompted to click ‘see events anyway’ – a real issue): JC

The reality is that SEO teams are now asked for COVID specific reporting. It’s a great opportunity also for people who are still employed to get their house in order whilst other people are furloughed. It can be about going back to the basics, such as on-page optimisation and amplifying non-branded content, suggests JC. Finally, create content that fits the users mindset and questions during and post-pandemic.

“Another question as an SEO, is this the whole new normal?” – JC Connington

Is this a Pivotal Moment for SEO?

Listen to our interesting conversation about why it’s a yes and a no! Join the chat too by tweeting us using @mrsalinaghost and @bighouseburning

Get in touch with JC Connigton: Twitter | Website (for his rock-star music!)

Related Episodes

Music credit: I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix) by spinningmerkaba (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/56346 Ft: Jlang, 4nsic, grapes.

Introductory References: H2/Header 2 Resources

Shoutouts to Roxana, Head of SEO at Alamy, Adam Whittles, Head of SEO at AutoTrader & guest on previous episode, Trevor Fox, Kyle Faber and Anett Pohl.